Part I–Indian Kitchen Planning and Designing

The Indian Kitchen needs planning and designing so that you have a good time in it. Of course, this is true for every kitchen in the world! But the average Indian meal of 3 to 4 items becomes easier if this step is done well.

Every kitchen is different, and you may have a narrow space or a large room. You can transform any of these kitchens into an efficient, safe and comfortable work space.

Things to Keep in Mind as you Plan and Design your Indian Kitchen

The plan and design for your Indian kitchen would depend on several things, but here is a simple list. This is, of course, easier to do if you have a choice during the construction itself. However, these tips will help you pack great features and functionality into any kitchen, even if you cannot renovate right now.

The Tips:

  1. The number of footsteps you take in the kitchen should be minimal as your work flows from storing, preparing and cooking food. So, arrange your ingredients, the chopping board, the knife, the pans and the gas stove in such a way that you do not have to back track and criss-cross across the kitchen when you cook.
  2. The floor should have non-slip, easy to clean tiles. Ceramic tiles are a good choice for basic needs.
    Keep in mind that you must always order extra tiles. This is because you can easily replace any broken or stained tile later. Sometimes manufacturers discontinue certain styles, and you would hate to be stuck for want of a couple of tiles.
  3. The wall area above the gas stove, the sink and the space where you will be grinding or blending will invariably get splattered with grease, purees, masala, etc. It will be easy to clean if you line it with tiles.
  4. The height of the kitchen counter should be suitable for you according to your height. This will prevent aches and pains.
  5. The sink, preferably made of stainless steel, should be in a convenient location, with taps at comfortable heights. Double sinks can help you stack your dishes in one side as you continue using the other. This prevents cross contamination.
  6. Plan the storage spaces well. You must be able to put away stuff and leave your kitchen counter clear. In fact, I think proper storage space is important enough for me to dedicate an entire section to it 😃.

The Plan and Design of Storage Spaces in the Indian Kitchen

The trick to a tidy looking, resourceful Indian kitchen is great storage spaces. I know I am repeating this, but plan storage carefully, since that’s not something you can change easily. And Indian kitchens have way more pots and pans than any other I have seen!

I recommend shelves or cabinets at three levels:

The loft space

Many people do not use this marvelous space. Store the occasionally-used, miscellaneous items in these shelves. So place the odd picnic basket, large-sized vessels and serving trays that you need when cooking for guests, etc. here.

The loft space is shown with large cook kegs, oven and other things stored in neatly
My cool kegs (yes I still use them) large vessels, trays, 3rd spare oven 🤣 and other such stuff are placed in the loft space. Out of the way, yet accessible when I need them.

The space above the kitchen counter

The counter above the kitchen counter with boxes and jars in them
The most useful spot, where you will store the most often used ingredients and foods.

Just below the loft cupboard, you can plan the next set of storage spots  (Just leave out the area above the gas stove and the sink).

Stock your lentils, spices, snacks 🛒🍫🍬🍜etc. on easy-to-reach shelves. Store the things you do not want on a daily basis (like tins of milkmaid, 🍾milk powder, icing sugar, extra masalas, spare packs of chips and biscuits, etc.) in the topmost shelf.

These shelves need not be very deep. A depth of around 10 inches is ideal. If they are too deep, the boxes at the back will not be easily accessible. This will mess up the shelf every time you need to take them out.

A 3 tier shelf with small masala boxes on them, organised into 3 heights in an Indian kitchen

This shelf has three ‘steps’ so that the little masala boxes can be organised efficiently. So when you take out one box, the others are not messed up.

In case you do not have a choice, and the shelves are deep, use some ingenuity to make your boxes visible and accessible. One easy way to do this is tiered storage. Get your local carpenter to make such ‘steps’ or go for ready-made ones.

An Indian Kitchen shelf showing different sized shelves. The tall bottles stored in top shelf, smaller ones in the lower shelf, according to their heights.
Different heights for shelves is a MUST. Your carpenter typically will try to make them of the same height. Ensure you get it the way you want it.



What you should note is that the heights of the shelves should vary.

For example, the heights could be 6”, 8″, 10″ and 12”.

This helps you have assigned places for your short masala boxes, the tall oil bottle, and so on, without wasting space above short boxes and wondering where to store the taller ones. 🏆

The space under your kitchen counter

A drawer with different organising dividers in it
Get a carpenter to make this drawer with dividers for you, to organise your tools

Here is where you store your necessary kitchen utensils, cutlery and other small tools. Again, remember to get shelves of varying heights and lengths to accommodate different things.

If you have many small tools and want to organise them, you could go for a set of drawers in one corner (instead of a cupboard). Your miscellaneous boxes and their lids, soup spoons, chopsticks, spare water bottles, etc will be ready for use here.

A set of four drawers with different things organised in each
A set of drawers is most useful when you have to be quick and efficient

Pro Tip 1: The space next to the fridge can be used to store bottles of various kinds in clever little racks that are easily available online. Check my Pinterest Board for some good ideas.

Pro Tip 2: Store fresh produce like onions, potatoes, garlic, coconuts etc in aesthetic bins or racks in a cool, dry corner. You could also store them in racks attached to the sides of your cabinets. Never try to enclose these vegetables in a closed space—they will sprout or rot.

Modular solutions for kitchen storage

A modular drawer with things organised in the top and bottom racks
Modular shelves are great in the kitchen

If you live in your own home, I highly recommend you go for modular cabinets, shelves and drawers.

These modular ones are easy to clean, and additionally, there are no places where insects like cockroaches can thrive.

Modular kitchens are also super easy (and fun!) to use as they glide in and out easily. A plethora of affordable brands are available to suit your needs. Just choose!

A simple glass rack held up by brackets for miscellaneous boxes of masalas popular in every Indian kitchen
A simple glass shelf is most handy for things you need everyday. The masala dabba, and salt need not be put away inside a cupboard.

Make the kitchen in a rented accommodation chic and efficient by using brackets to hold up glass racks.

Make the most effective use of corners with steel racks specially built for corners.

A corner steel rack with onions, potatoes and coconut stocked on it
Use each corner efficiently. Many racks and organisers are available for this purpose

The Dustbin

Dustbin with pedal and lid placed in a corner of the Indian kitchen
Keep the dustbin and the area around it absolutely clean and make it easy for everyone to do so.

The spot for your dustbin has to be strategic as well. You should put your dustbin in a secluded corner of the kitchen to limit contamination. Choose one with a pedal-operated lid, to avoid spreading contamination.

Many prefer to keep the dustbin under the sink. But I do not recommend this. This is because you will find it difficult to clean the area or close the dustbin. Even if you have a fancy shelf that can be pulled out, it adds an extra step every time you want to use the dustbin. It causes a mess.

All cleaning fluids are kept separately in a shelf
Never ever keep the cleaning fluids in the area where you keep food. The bottles and other things must be in a shelf under the sink or away in the balcony. Keep it locked if you have small, curious kids.

My personal recommendation is to keep your cleaning fluids under the sink. This way, you avoid accidentally touching cleaning supplies while cooking. Or have a separate shelf for these toxic fluids.

For more ideas, visit your favourite furniture store or some modern kitchens in sample flats.

Pinterest is also a great tool for renovations. In addition, you can check out my Pinterest board for kitchen inspiration here.

The Kitchen Counter for Indian Kitchens

I prefer granite for the kitchen counters. A wide variety is now available and so you can select the one most convenient for you. Avoid marble for countertops. This is because masala stains are difficult to clean off its surface.

Assign one part of the counter as the spot where you will be placing all your electric equipment. Fix permanent plug points on the wall next to it. Ensure you have at least two ‘5 Amp’ plugs (for the mixie, blender etc) and one ’15 Amp’ plug fixed (for your microwave).

Conclusion

The options available are a many, but do a bit of budgeting before you jump into ordering stuff. Always add 25% more to your estimate to be on the safe side.

Remember, you can cook great food even without modular shelves and fancy tiles!

So spend only what you can, but plan the spaces well.

 

8 Comments

  1. Everything is very open with a really clear description of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thanks for sharing!

     
  2. We’re currently looking at re-doing and designing our kitchen, so this post is fab, as it isn’t all that big. I’m looking to completely change the styling and these are right up my street! Thank you so much for sharing so many amazing ideas.

     
  3. Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so
    I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading
    your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums
    that deal with the same subjects? Appreciate it!

     
  4. Very useful and knowledgeable content. Planning and Designing both are important in Indian Kitchen, which already describes by you. Tips are also very helpful. Overall it’s good content.

     

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